Forestry Assistance 

Through the Forestry Assistance Program we are able to provide, as a public service, forest management consultation to private landowners of Oceana, Newaygo, and Muskegon Counties.  Whether you use your forested property for hunting, fishing, bird watching, timber production, outdoor recreation, or to assure future generations can enjoy the land - we can help you better plan, understand, manage, protect and utilize your forest resources.

When you make an appointment for a free assessment, your conservation district forester will provide customized information about your property like aerial photographs and soil survey information. During the assessment they will ask questions about your goals, objectives, and previous management history while completing a quick inventory of your land. They will also provide you with information about state and federal assistance programs for private landowners, and help connect you to local professionals who can provide you with the services you need.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development partner to fund conservation districts across the state to support quality forestry assistance delivered at the local level. Private landowners with forested property in Oceana, Newaygo and Muskegon counties who are interested in the Forestry Assistance Program should contact Michael Paling, at (231) 861-5600 Ex. 3005.

Why Forestry?

Since the first settlers arrived in North America, forests around the continent have felt their impact.  After decades of over utilization, the focus of the forest industry and environmental groups shifted to a more conservation oriented mind-set.  However, increased conservation efforts without forestry had unintended consequences.  The above photo series illustrates the transition for a natural ponderosa pine ecosystem to a forest free of management and natural disturbance.  The end result is a stand with poor productivity, too many trees per acre, and vulnerability to disease.  Modern day forestry practices seek to emulate natural disturbance regimes and simulate the natural processes that maintain stand health, productivity, and value.

For Landowners

Qualified Forest Program

The purpose of the Qualified Forest Program is to encourage private forestland owners to manage their land in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable manner. Landowners receive a tax exemption for developing and implementing a forest management plan. Private landowners with 20-640 acres of forested land are eligible. The annual deadline to apply is September 1st.   

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)           

The NRCS EQIP program is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners. To see if your forested property is eligible for participation in the EQIP program, please visit the website below.

Forest Stewardship Program

The Forest Stewardship Program connects landowners with a forester or wildlife biologist to develop a Forest Stewardship Plan for their forest. Participation in the program is voluntary, and cost share is available throughout the year. Since 1991, almost 6,000 people in Michigan have used their Forest Stewardship Plan to help them to manage, protect and enjoy their forest.

Commercial Forest  program       

The Commercial Forest (CF) Program provides a significant property tax reduction to private forestland owners who allow hunting and fishing on their property. Check out the DNR web page below for more information, including where CFA land is located in your county:

CFA Land by county

For Professionals

The Forestry Assistance Program works to provide an initial professional contact with landowners who are interested in forest management on their property. Our role is to provide general guidance and information and facilitate referrals to other public and private resource professionals.

Qualified foresters interested in pursuing the project(s) described below should respond to the District Forester for Oceana, Newaygo and Muskegon counties within two weeks of the posting. You may include additional relevant information in your responses pertaining to the project. Forester Michael Paling will then forward all responses to the landowner. Landowners are encouraged to contact all of the consultants who reply in a timely fashion, but the choice remains with the individual landowner. Our office will follow up with landowners to ensure they get the assistance they need.

Please contact us if you would like more information on any project. We may have other information such as notes, maps, or digital photographs.

Service Request

Request Number: 62-18-20

Date Posted: April 13, 2018
Location: Home Township, Newaygo County
Acres: 240
Forest Type: Scrub oak

Respond By: April 27, 2018
Contact: Michael Paling at (231) 861-5600 ext 3005 or

Landowner Needs:

This landowner is looking for someone to write an FSP plan and administer a harvest. The plan will cover the whole 240 acres on the property, but the harvest will only be on 45 acres.

The current basal area of the area to be harvested is about 70. Average diameter is about 13 inches. Species composition is mostly black and white oak, with a small pine component of red, white, and jack pine. The property is going to be converted into Karner Blue Butterfly habitat through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. The target is to harvest most of the timber in 31 acres and leave 10-30% of the canopy. The other 14 acres will be a lighter cut to fade the first cut into the rest of the property.


Service Request

Request Number: 64-18-17

Date Posted: April 11, 2018
Location: Pentwater Township, Oceana County
Acres: 60
Forest Type: Mixed hardwood and softwood

Respond By: April 25, 2018
Contact: Michael Paling at (231) 861-5600 ext 3005 or

Landowner Needs:

This landowner is looking to have a timber harvest. The property consists of a mix of several different species: Red and white oak, red maple, aspen, white pine, natural red pine, beech. The majority is red oak, red maple, aspen and white pine. The basal area is about 120 to 130 ft2 and the average DBH is about 18 inches.


Service Request

Request Number: 62-18-20; A

Date Posted: April 3, 2018
Location: Everett Township, Newaygo County
Acres: 50
Forest Type: hardwood/aspen

Respond By: April 17, 2018
Contact: Michael Paling at (231) 861-5600 ext 3005 or

Landowner Needs:

This landowner needs a management plan written to enroll in QFP.


Service Request

Request Number: 64-18-15; A

Date Posted: April 3, 2018
Location: Newfield Township, Oceana County
Acres: 73
Forest Type: Red pine/mixed hardwoods

Respond By: April 17, 2018
Contact: Michael Paling at (231) 861-5600 ext 3005 or

Landowner Needs:

This landowner needs a forest management plan written for QFP. The property will need to use PA 107 (Ag/Forest Combo to qualify).